Industry Voice

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 07, 2014 8 comments
Thorsten Loesch

Most readers are familiar with iFi Audio whose affordable products include DACs, portable headphone amps, a USB power supply, Tube Buffer/Pre-Amplifier, and more. We've reviewed a number of their products including the iFi iDAC (see review), the iUSBPower (see review), and the iTube Active Tube Buffer/Preamp (see review). Abbington Music Research (AMR) also produces a full line of "Reference Class" products including amplifiers, preamplifiers, loudspeakers, disc players, DACs, and more. The Chief Designer behind both product lines, Thorsten Loesch, was kind enough to participate in this Q&A with AudioStream where we dig into some of the nitty gritty behind PCM versus DSD, human hearing, the joy of vacuum tubes, and more. I'd like to thank Thorsten for the time and effort he put into his response and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 13, 2014 15 comments
Photo Credit: Danny Clinch

It should come as no surprise at this point that Neil Young was at SXSW to talk about Pono. I had the opportunity to spend some time talking to Neil Young about his new venture.

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 29, 2014 1 comments

Jitter. Its a controversial subject among audiophiles (what isn't?). PS Audio has posted Part 2 of their Jitter video series with "consulting digital expert" Ted Smith, "Audible Effects of Jitter", but I've included Part 1 here which is titled "Why Jitter Matters" just in case you missed it. Part 2 will start directly after (duck and cover!).

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 30, 2013 33 comments
In this third installment I will cover possible methods by which bit perfect software can affect sound quality in a DAC.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 17, 2013 47 comments
I think its fair to say that Charlie Hansen, Ayre's Founder and Designer, is not exactly a fan of DSD. Thankfully, that didn't stop him from offering DSD-capable versions of Ayre's QB-9, DX-5-DSD, and now the QA-9 thanks to AlpineSoft's VinylStudio DoP vinyl ripping software. What the guys at Ayre have gone and done is ripped parts of three tracks to single-rate DSD and 24/192 using the QA-9 so we can compare DSD to PCM. But there's more...
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 21, 2013 5 comments
(left to right) Steve Silberman, Gordon Rankin, Charles Hansen. photo credit: Steve S. and Stereophile

During our first conversation with AudioQuest's Steve Silberman, Charlie Hansen of Ayre Acoustics and Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio we talked about the notion that "There's no such thing as digital" (see Part 1). In Part 2 we move on to ask, what can be done to address the problems of high-speed analog signals in a modern audio system?

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 06, 2013 12 comments
With all of the attention DSD has garnered of late, it seemed like a good time to go to one of SACD's creators for answers to some common questions. Andreas Koch was involved in developing the standards and equipment for SACD production, recording, and playback, his company Playback Designs was one of the first to offer DSD capability in a consumer product, and he was also an integral player in the development of the DSD over PCM (DoP) specification. Andreas was kind enough to answer some questions concerning DSD which will hopefully clarify some aspects of how DSD actually works.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 28, 2013 10 comments
In Part 1 of our Q&A, John Swenson covered "What is Digital?". You should consider that required reading for Part 2 since he builds on that foundation here. Part 1 also includes John's bio if you'd like to know more about him. Now let's get on with Part 2:

Can you explain how things other than "the bits" could have an effect on the analog output of a DAC?

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 20, 2013 9 comments
Over on Audio Asylum, our own Steve Plaskin (Mercman on AA) posted some comments on Music Software. In the responses, John Swenson offered up some answers to some questions we've been dealing with here on AudioStream most notably in our conversation with Charles Hanson, Gordon Rankin, and Steve Silberman (see article). So I contacted John and asked him if he'd like to expand on those thoughts here on AudioStream and he kindly agreed. John also provided a bio which is included at the end of this piece to give you some background on his background.

Here's Part 1 starting at the beginning...

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 24, 2013 37 comments
During a conversation with AudioQuest's Steve Silberman, Steve brought up the notion that "there's no such thing as digital" which I found thought provoking. I suggested to Steve that we have an email conversation about this very topic and Steve suggested adding Charlie Hansen of Ayre Acoustics and Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio into the mix. So that's what we did. The opening question:

It's common for people to envision and represent a digital signal as a series of 1s and 0s. As such, there's really no room for error, at least according to this binary theory. Is a digital signal simply a series of 1s and 0s?

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 14, 2013 86 comments
There has recently been some hubbub online (and even within some applications!) surrounding the media player JPLAY. Essentially, claims have been made by the people behind two competing (actually complementary) media players that JPLAY is nothing more than a "hoax" and an "audiophile scam". The former claim was leveled by JRiver, both in their software as a warning to JPLAY users as well as online on the JRiver forum (among others), and the latter claim was made by Foobar2000. As you may be aware, our own Steve Plaskin reviewed JPLAY (see review) and found it did in fact improve the sound quality of his system so our position in this skirmish is clear.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 01, 2013 7 comments
Dr. Mark Waldrep

This is Part 2 of a planned 3-part Q&A with Dr. Waldrep of AIX Records and iTrax.com. If you haven't read Part 1, I'd recommend starting there (Understanding High Definition Audio: Facts and Fiction). As the title for Part 2 suggests, Mark talks about the important subject of provenance with regard to HD downloads. I'd like to thank Mark once again for his time and for agreeing to tackle this somewhat controversial subject.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 18, 2013 5 comments
According to the Discogs database, there have been 76 releases of Pet Sounds. This total includes the original mono LP, numerous LP reissues, the mono CD, a stereo version first mixed for The Pet Sound Sessions engineered and produced by Mark Linett under the supervision of Brian Wilson, a HDCD, a DCC gold disc, a 5.1 surround mix on DVD-A also engineered by Mark Linett, a Mo-Fi SACD from 2012 again engineered by Mark Linett, and the latest stereo/mono CD from 2012 mastered by Mark Linett. We also now have the 2012 HDtracks 24/192 version. Here's what HDtracks has to say about it, "Stereo mix produced, engineered and mastered at 24bit/192kHz by The Beach Boys’ long time Grammy®-Award-Winning engineer Mark Linett under the supervision of Brian Wilson." That's all. So I figured I'd ask Mark Linett about Pet Sounds and see if we could get some more information. Mark was kind enough to answer a few questions about what is arguably (I would) one of the most important albums of our time, The Beach Boys Pet Sounds.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 16, 2013 16 comments
Elliot Mazer (left) & Neil Young

Elliot Mazer's resume reads like a small army of overachievers. Grammy-award-winning Record Producer, Studio Owner, Recording Engineer, Inventor, Professor, and more, Elliot has worked with some of our best-known recording artists including Janis Joplin, Santana, Sinatra, The Who, and most famously Neil Young. He has also been involved in the developmental phases of the digital technologies of our time including work at Stanford University’s Computer Center for Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), building what is regarded as the first all-digital recording studio, and more recently working with the Warner Music Group on their Archive Project, and consulting to OraStream and Pono. Elliot was kind enough to take time away from his busy schedule to answer some questions for AudioStream for which I am very appreciative. Thank you Elliot.

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 26, 2012 5 comments
Steve Nugent is the founder of Empirical Audio and if you frequent Audio Asylum or AudioCircle, you'll have undoubtedly seen his posts as audioengr. Empirical Audio makes a number of products including the Overdrive® SE USB DAC/Pre, Synchro-Mesh Reclocker, Off-Ramp USB Converter, and the Short Block USB Filter. As you can surmise from this list, external clocking speaks to a certain design approach and focus on among things the elimination of jitter. We talk about this approach and lots more in this Q&A and I'd like to thank Steve Nugent for his time and for participating in this Q&A. Enjoy!

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